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NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours

Functioning (Continued)

Sleep deprivation impairs your information processing and learning.8

  • Both short-term recalla and working memoryb decline. Thus, it becomes difficult for you to perform tasks that require information to be accurately held in memory for brief periods (such as dialing a phone number that was just looked up, remembering a drug dose from chart to med room, or remembering a list of tasks when interrupted).
  • Your learning is impaired, reducing information retained during activities such as patient handovers and in-service training.

Sleep deprivation impairs your performance.8

  • Divergent thinkingc, innovation, and insight decrease. For example, when plans need to be changed, you might fixate on an ineffective solution and not be able to recognize better alternatives.
  • Risk assessment is poorer and risk-taking behaviors increase.10
  • As sleep deprivation increases, activities judged to be nonessential are neglected because awareness of surroundings and circumstances decreases. For example, you may misjudge how much time has passed or may not recognize signs that a patient’s condition is deteriorating.

aHolds a small amount of information in an active, readily available state for a short period of time.

bProvides temporary storage and manipulation of the information necessary for complex cognitive tasks such as language comprehension, learning, reasoning.

cThinking that is flexible and moves in diverging directions, considering a variety of aspects; sometimes leads to novel ideas and solutions.

Module: 3, Page 5 of 28